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Proverbs Index: Teens

Proverbs for Teens -- Pearls of Wisdom from Syvum

What are Proverbs?

Simply put, Proverbs are "Pearls of Wisdom". Proverbs necessarily need to:
Be popular and memorable;
e.g., All's well that ends well.
Be concise and to the point;
e.g., Practice makes perfect.
Provide sensible advice;
e.g., First thrive and then wive.
Contain unchanging truths based on experience over the years.
e.g., Honesty is the best policy.
Most proverbs exhibit simple rhyme and elegant balance.

Where do Proverbs come from?

Proverbs come from two primary sources: the common and the wise. These two sources are not really distinct. Something common and popular has often been documented by the wise, and something written by the wise has often been liked and freely used by the common man. The latter is the case where quotations graduate to proverbs.

Proverbs have largely originated from the traditional and collective wisdom of mankind. By way of examples,

  • Little strokes fell great oaks has obviously come from the common experience of wood-cutters in olden times.
  • A stitch in time saves nine has evidently come from the experience of housewives in managing clothes.

Many English proverbs owe their origin to the Bible, e.g., A soft answer turneth away wrath.

In addition to the Bible, several proverbs are believed to have their origin in the works of William Shakespeare. It is difficult to be certain whether these proverbs were truly invented by Shakespeare or were already in existence before or around his time. Some examples follow.

  • Brevity is the soul of wit
    (from Hamlet)
  • Cowards die many times before their deaths
    (from Julius Caesar)
  • The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose
    (from The Merchant of Venice)
  • One touch of nature makes the whole world kin
    (from Troilus and Cressida)
  • A rose by any other name would smell as sweet
    (from Romeo and Juliet)
  • Sweet are the uses of adversity
    (from As You Like It)

Famous literary works have contributed to a lot of proverbs as illustrated below.

  • Kind hearts are more than coronets
    (from the poem Lady Clara Vere de Vere by Alfred Tennyson)
  • Laugh and the world laughs with you, weep and you weep alone
    (from the poem Solitude by Ella Wheeler Wilcox)
  • A little learning is a dangerous thing
    (from Essay on Criticism by Alexander Pope)
  • A thing of beauty is a joy for ever
    (from the poem Endymion by John Keats)
  • What will Mrs Grundy say?
    (from the play Speed the Plough by Thomas Morton)

Other proverbs are attributed to particular individuals, presumably wise and learned ones, e.g., They also serve who only stand and wait appears as the last line in John Milton's sonnet on his blindness.

Some English proverbs have their origin in other languages like French, Latin and Spanish. The English versions may have developed in parallel, or been borrowed from other languages. For instance, He gives twice who gives quickly is a translation of Bis dat qui cito dat (Latin). When the proverbs have not been translated and are even today more popular in their original form, they can be readily recognized to have been borrowed from another language. Here are some examples.

  • Caveat emptor (Latin) is more popular than Let the buyer beware.
  • In vino veritas (Latin) is more popular than In wine, there is truth.
  • Per ardua ad astra (Latin) is more popular than Through hardship to the stars.

How are Proverbs to be interpreted?

Proverbs are to be interpreted primarily in two ways: literally and metaphorically.

Examples of Proverbs that contain a universal truth and are to be interpreted literally are:

  • Hope for the best and prepare for the worst
  • One is never too old to learn

Examples of Proverbs that apply to a host of situations and are to be interpreted in a broad metaphorical sense (not just literally) are:

  • A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush
  • Who repairs not his gutters repairs his whole house

How does one gain mastery over Proverbs?

You can gain mastery over Proverbs by attempting the associated activity for Teens in the Syvum Family Fun Zone. You will be required to fill in the missing word to complete the proverb. On clicking the "Score" button, your answers will be evaluated. You can try answering another time those questions you got incorrect. At any time, clicking the "Score and Show Answer(s)" button will allow you to evaluate your answers and view the correct answers.

There are over 750 proverbs in the Proverbs Activity for Teens in the Syvum Family Fun Zone.

To allow you to learn them in a systematic manner, the Proverbs are categorized based on their starting letter (ignoring The, An and A) as given below.

Proverbs Category Examples Answers
A-B As you _______, so shall you reap. sow
Barking _______ seldom bite. dogs
C-D Children should be _______ and not heard. seen
Desires are nourished by _______. delays
E-F Everybody's _______ is nobody's business. business
First _______, first served. come
G-H Good company on the road is the _______ cut. shortest
Happy is the country that has no _______. history
I-K It is easy to be _______ after the event. wise
_______ is power. Knowledge
L-M Lend your money and lose your _______. friend
Many hands make _______ work. light
N-O Never spend your _______ before you have it. money
Only the wearer knows where the _______ pinches. shoe
P-S _______ without profit puts little in the pot. Praise
_______ has many friends. Success
T-V The _______ ever turns to the aching tooth. tongue
Uneasy lies the head that wears a _______. crown
W-Z Want is the _______ of industry. mother
You must lose a fly to catch a _______. trout

Get started on the Proverbs Activity
by clicking above on the letters in the Proverbs Category now!!

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